A SOBO’s Experience with the PCTA Permit Application

A long wait

For us southbounders (SOBOs), the wait for the permit is excruciating. I had major FOMO in November, when most people going northbound applied for a permit. After months of waiting, the second permit application day was January 10.

I had an idea of what date I wanted: best case scenario, I wanted a permit for the first week of July. That’s usually when the snow is almost melted.

On July 9, we got our unique and randomized appointment time. I wasn’t lucky. The times we could get ranged between 10:30 am and 3:00 pm, and I got 2:34:27 pm.

Hoping for the best, preparing for… not the best (but not the worst either)

Obviously, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. There were many people in the same boat, airing out their frustration on Facebook groups or on Reddit. I tried to keep things in perspective and keep my spirits high: if there weren’t any PCTA permits left, there were always going to be some cancellations as we get closer to the start date, or local permits.

Another tip for SOBOs I saw was to apply for a long-distance permit from Stevens Pass to Campo and get the couple of local permits needed from the Canada border to Stevens Pass once on the trail. However, for simplicity purposes and peace of mind, I was still trying to get a full SOBO permit.

As it turns out, I didn’t need to worry. Although the NOBO permits did disappear pretty quickly, the SOBO ones were slower. Much, much slower. I went to sleep peacefully around 9pm (sue me, I’m 80 at heart), knowing that at the time, not one of the dates for SOBOs were full.

I woke up to my alarm at 11:30 pm (French time), opened my computer in bed, much to the dismay of my dog, Pudding, who was fast asleep next to me and I woke up in the process. There was only one date where all 15 available permits had been already taken. I snagged a permit for one of the dates I wanted.

As I’m writing this today, there are still some SOBO permits available, starting on July 17. That would have made my hike a race against the clock, but as I wasn’t totally opposed to it, turns out I didn’t need to stress nearly as much as I did.

Next steps

I’m still waiting for my permit application to be reviewed, which is normal timing considering I applied only eight days ago.

One of the most important steps (yes, way more important than the permit application) in the coming weeks is going to be the visa interview. Because I’m not American and I’m staying in the US longer than three months, I’m applying for a B2 visa. My interview is in a few weeks, and as a proud Type A person, I’m preparing for it like nobody’s business. More on that next month.

Once I (hopefully) get approved for a visa, I’ll have to book my flights to Seattle and book a hotel there. I’ll also get my travel insurance, and finish preparing all the paperwork I’ll need before leaving at the end of June for the adventure of a lifetime.

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Comments 1

  • R Benson : Jan 20th

    Hi, Margot. Just PMd you in Instagram. I live in Seattle area and may be able to help out when you get here, if needed. Cheers! Happy Trails!


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